DO YOU REMEMBER?

Many years ago, a couple of my cousins from Wisconsin would come to Illinois to visit.  They were about 10 years younger than I and we would have a good time visiting together.  When it was bedtime, I would read to them from an English storybook that my Father brought home when he returned after World War II.  The book had adorable pudgy-cheeked children and precious elves and even snow fairies!

I married about 10 years later and these two delightful girls were my flower-girls at the wedding.   We really did not have much contact through the ensuing decades, other than some Christmas cards, attending the funeral of a beloved Aunt died, and receiving a wedding announcement.

On our trip last summer, we were going through Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin to visit friends and I contacted one of these ladies to see if we could get together for dinner as we journeyed through the state.   Plans were made and we did so. 

decoration at campsite
Decoration at campsite in Rivers Edge Campground, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

She contacted her sister and the next day both of them came to the campground for a visit and then dinner.  We had a delightful time. 

pool play area at campground
Pool play area at Rivers Edge Campground, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

To my astonishment, they asked if I remembered the stories that I read to them years earlier from that old English storybook.  When I said that I did, they asked that I tell them two of those stories before they left the campground that evening.   I was honored to do so, and we revisited the Pixie who stole a taste of pink ice cream and the Snow Fairy who disobeyed and became stuck on earth.  Two adult women remembering life lessons that had been encapsulated in stories told decades earlier in their childhood, and me cherishing the time with them and recalling when the stories calmed them so that they could sleep in a strange house.

This past week we were working with come elementary school children and singing the song “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the Book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.”

In doing so, the children had fun singing at the top of their lungs, while the adults revisited the time in their childhood when they, too, learned the song.  But far more than having fun, the song is imprinting the message on the children’s minds that the Bible is the Word of God and it is something that lasts, you can stand on its teaching because it is from Almighty God.  They may not understand all that, but it is in their heads and hearts and someday, when they are older, they will remember its teaching, just like my cousins remembered those comforting stories.

The importance of teaching children the Word of God is a direct command of our God.  For example, in speaking of the law and commandments of God as given to Moses, we read:

You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Deuteronomy 11:19

The Psalmist says the following:

Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Psalm 34:11

No matter our age or station in life, we all can say with King David:

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”

Psalm 86:11

Snow fairies and Pixies are not real and the stories are not imbued with the imprint of the Holy Spirit of our God.  However, Scripture is, and we have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to teach them what God says in His Word to guide them as they go along life’s pathways. 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:1

This great cloud of witnesses refers to those who have gone before us, who paved the way so that we could know of God and of His Word.  So, will your children remember when you read the Bible to them?  Will your grandchildren remember that you told them the stories in the Bible?  Will your family be able to point to you as a person who assisted them in understanding God’s Word? Are you paving their way through the Scriptures?

Father, teach us to do Your will and to tell the next generation about Your marvelous works in our own lives as well as in the lives of those who have gone before.  May I spread Your Word as I live my life in witness to Your love, grace and salvation through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.

BREAD – YUMMY!

I have long had a bread machine, but it went unused for most of my working career – too much to do, overtime, documents to read and cases to research. 

All that changed after retirement.  I have been having a grand time making homemade bread, dinner rolls, and breakfast sweet breads (this latter needs more practice before I serve it to anyone other than my beloved Husband!). 

After making two loaves of light rye and one loaf of white bread, I sat down to eat a slice of the rye and, as I was munching on it, I thought of bread in the scriptures. 

What exactly was bread in the scriptures?  It was as important to the ancient people and cultures as it is to us today.

In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, we find that Joseph oversaw storing the grain before the severe famine was to hit the area.

“During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it.  And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.”

Genesis 41:47-49

Grain makes bread, and bread sustains the people.   Grain in scriptures included barley, millet, and wheat. The King James Version of scripture uses the word “corn” while the Hebrew definition focuses on wheat, cereal and grain.

For example, we read in the giving of the Law:

“If a man dedicates to the LORD part of the land that is his possession, then the valuation shall be in proportion to its seed. A homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.” 

Leviticus 27:16  (By the way, a “homer” is about 6 bushels.)

The beautiful book of Ruth speaks of barley as well:

“So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.”

Ruth 2:23

Exodus 9:32 (KJV) speaks of “rie” as being in the field, but it is believed that this was not something that we would use today to make “rye” bread; rather, scholars think this more likely to be spelt or emmer which is another type of wheat. 

God called Gideon in Judges Chapter 6 while Gideon was beating out the wheat in the winepress in an effort to hide the grain from invading Midianites.  And, in Judges Chapter 15 we read that Samson went to visit his wife during the wheat harvest.  Indeed, wheat is often referenced in the Old Testament.

This is a picture of a bread pan that was from Lachish (ca, fifteenth century B.C.). 

Lachish bread pan
Picture from Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums as found in Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts, J. I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney and William White, Jr., © 1995 Thomas Nelson Publishers, page 471.

This pan may have been used for forming cakes of bread or it could actually have been used for baking the bread.  Leviticus 2:5 says:

“And if your offering is a grain offering baked on a griddle, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mixed with oil.”

Leviticus 2:5. This is the ESV translation; the KJV translation uses the word “pan” instead of “griddle”.  Whether we would consider this a pan or a griddle, the picture gives evidence of what the ancient people making bread actually used. We certainly can relate to this activity even though several millennia have passed since this pan was used.

Jesus used wheat in his discourses with the disciples such as we find in Matthew 13.  One of the parables taught by Jesus referenced the man who sowed good seed in his field, only to have his enemies plant weeds among the seeds.  The owner left the field alone and all the plants grew until harvest when it was easy to identify the good wheat from the bad weeds.  Later in the chapter, Jesus explained the parable to the disciples, saying that the weeds were the evil ones, but the wheat represented those in the kingdom of God.

We also read Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:11 where He is teaching the disciples to pray when He said:

“Give us this day our daily bread, …”

The hearers would have understood that bread was a staple of the Hebrew diet.  They milled and sifted grain, usually wheat but also barley. They made it into dough, kneading it and forming the dough into thin cakes which were then baked.  They also would have understood Jesus’ prayer for bread with the broadened meaning of food in general. 

For me, the primary reference that comes to my mind when I think of scripture and bread is Jesus’ I AM teaching:

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” 

John 6:35

People understand that bread is life-giving; it is life-saving; it is food; and it represents the fact that food is fundamental to our well-being.  We must have physical food or we will die, it is “as simple as that!”

In like manner, we cannot spiritually be alive without the food of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the Bread of life, both here and for eternity.  He handles our longing for spiritual food and gives us the Holy Spirit as our comforter and guide.  We must feast on the Word of God or we will die, this too is “as simple as that!”

Next time you pick up a slice of bread, stop and thank Him for being your Bread of Life! 

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

Psalm 34:8

Father, thank You for providing Your Son for our salvation and for an abundant life now and evermore.  May I always look to my Savior and rely on His direction and guidance so that I will bring glory to Your Holy Name.